Editorial

Pierre Francotte, President of the UFB

In an economic environment that continues to be challenging, United Fund for Belgium has been able to close the 2013-2014 campaign at about the same level as the year before: a total amount of €702,000 has been allocated to 82 social projects, submitted by associations that, in many different ways and all over Belgium, provide care and relief to the most vulnerable people in our society. You will find more details as you browse through the present 2013-2014 Activity Report.

The stability of our results testifies to the continued need for UFB’s “business model”, which is to constitute an effective link between the world of corporations and their employees, who look for trusted partners to achieve their Corporate Social Responsibility objectives, and the field of social action in search of financial means to make investments for which no public grants are available. In this editorial, I would like once again to pay tribute to both these constituencies.

There is no escaping the fact that the long and painful economic crisis has negatively impacted the livelihood of many of our fellow citizens, while at the same time putting a lot of strain on the public authorities’ ability to increase, or even to maintain, the funding of all desirable social services. In these circumstances, we should all be grateful that so many women and men are willing to devote their time and energy managing and running associations to assist the underprivileged in our society, whether they face a difficult childhood, financial problems, a physical or mental disability, or any form of social exclusion. I met many representatives of the 82 associations supported by UFB at our traditional Handover Ceremony (held in early June on the premises of ExxonMobil ), and they all expressed  gratitude  for being aided by UFB; however I want to make it clear again, as I did then, that we as citizens are rather indebted to them for all the generosity  that we witness in so many social initiatives – especially in the local, small or medium size organizations that UFB tends to favor, as illustrated in this Report.

On the other hand, I am also struck once more by the loyalty and commitment of UFB’s numerous corporate partners. It is extraordinary that most of our donors renew their pledge year after year, and that they are joined by new contributors as well. I don’t take this for granted at all, and want to express my appreciation to all the corporate decision makers who have agreed to support our latest campaign, often in the face of budgetary headwinds in their own organizations.

 We also observe a desire on the part of our donors to enhance the quality of their corporate commitment, either by establishing a closer relationship with some of the supported charities, or by stimulating a higher level of employee involvement, or both. The UFB team acknowledges these trends, and wants to be responsive, whenever feasible, to requests from CSR or HR departments of corporate donors to give presentations, identify particular types of social initiatives, help organize volunteering activities or in-house campaigns, etc. 

Last but not least, I want to gratefully acknowledge the important role of volunteers in the day to day operations of UFB. Their time, skills, network and advocacy, contributed through the Board, the Allocations Committee, the Finance Committee, the Fund Raising Committee, or in an ad hoc fashion,  provide an enormous leverage to the small permanent UFB team. It is our intention to reach out even more to volunteers in the near future, as it is the only way to strengthen UFB’s value proposition to donors and charities alike, while keeping the lid on operating expenses (a necessary condition to be able to continue our policy of “100% pass-through” for corporate and individual donations).

Whether you are a social organization, an actual or potential UFB donor (corporate, employee or individual), or a volunteer (now or in the future), let me thank you for helping UFB realize its 40+ year old vision in the complicated world of today.